{:en}SikhHistory.in{:}{:pa}ਸਿੱਖ ਇਤਿਹਾਸ{:}

Guru Arjan Dev Ji -5th Guru Sehban ( 15 April 1563 – 30 May 1606)

Guru Arjan Dev ji , 5th Sikh Guru  ( 15 April 1563 – 30 May 1606) was the first of the two Gurus martyred in the Sikh faith in  the Moughal’s rule during the regime  of Jahangir, son of Akbar. He was the youngest son of Bhai Jetha  Ji (Guru Ram Das) ,  and Mata Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das Ji, was born in Goindval Sahib,  Punjab, is now memorialized as the Gurdwara Chaubara Sahib.  He had two brothers: Prithi Chand and Mahadev.

Guru Arjan spent the first 11 years of his life in Goindwal and the next seven years with his father in Ramdaspur.  In between  stayed for two years in Lahore during his youth after being sent by his father to attend the wedding of his first cousin Sahari Mal’s son as well as to establish a Sikh Congregation.  Arjan could not bear the long separation from his father and wrote two letters to have permission to come back. But Prithi Chand made sure that they were not delivered. When there was no reply from his father  Arjan Dev Ji sent third letter though his messenger and instructed him to give to Guru Ram Das ji only.  Guru Ram Das ji got angry with Prithi Chand over the issue and wrote him back and asked  him to return immediately.

Guru Ram Das founded the town named after him “Ramdaspur”, around a large man-made water pool called “Ramdas Sarovar”. Guru Arjan expanded it with the finance given by donations and with the labor of  voluntary workers including Baba Budha and Guru himself.   By the time Amritsar as a city became well populated with all big bazars and business’ people of every kind . The  foremost task was to complete the construction  of the tank, which  was over in 1588. After that  Gutu Sahib thought of constructing a temple  which  was started after preparing the design. While preparing the design two most important things were taken care (1)

While entering the temple , the person should become  humble, while going down instead of climbing up like other mandirs and Gurudwaras and second is  that Mandir should have  four doors to enter which means it is open for every body, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian and not only for Sikhs. The foundation stone was laid by Hazarat Mian Mir, a Sufi MuslimFaqeer- A close friend of Guru Arjun Dev JI. Harmandir Sahib was constructed with no paid workers but entirely by  kar seva of Baba Budha ji ,Guru himself  and sangat or sevadars  who used to work day and night.

Though the followers of Guru  and Sangat donated generously but still some time the work have to be slow down because of the shortage of money. Guru Arjan reorganized the Masands system initiated by Guru Ram Das, by suggesting that the Sikhs donate, if possible, one-tenth of their income, goods or service to the Sikh organization which was called dasvandh. The Masand not only collected these funds but also taught tenets of Sikhism and settled civil disputes in their region. The dasvand was used to  finance in  building of gurdwaras and langars (shared communal kitchens)The temple was completed in 1604 A.D. By the time the  compilation of Adi Granth was also  completed on August 30, 1604 and installed in the Harmandir Sahib temple on September 1, 1604. First Granthi was Baba Budha Ji and first Hukumnama  from Guru Granth Sahib was .” ਸੰਤਾਂ  ਕੇ ਕਾਰਜ ਆਪ ਖਲੋਆ “.

One of the Sikh community disputes following Guru Ram Das was the emergence of new hymns claiming to have been composed by Nanak. According to the faction led by Guru Arjan, these hymns were distorted and fake, with some blaming Prithi Chand and his Sikh faction for having composed and circulated them. The concern and the possibility of wrong propaganda, immoral teachings and inauthentic Gurbani led Guru Arjan to initiate a major effort to collect, study, approve and compile a written official scripture, and this he called Adi Granth, the first edition of the Sikh scripture by 1604.

While having completing the Harmandir Sahib  during the first decade of his guruship between 1581 and 1589, creating a rallying point for the community and a center for Sikh activity, and a place for the installment of the Adi Granth, Guru Arjan had also gone on a tour of Majha and Doaba in Punjab, where he  founded the towns, City of Tarantaran and city of   Kartarpur near Jalandhar  The city of Sri Hargobindpur on the banks of river Beas was founded by him to celebrate the birth of his son Hargobind Sahib Ji. He also  constructed the holy (Sarovar) tank at Tarn Taran Sahib Other than s Harmandir Sahib and Ramdas Sarovar , he built  a water reservoirs called Santokhsar (lake of peace) and Gongsar (lake of Gongaga) also.Due to their central location in the Punjab heartland, the ranks of Sikhs would swell, especially among the Jatt peasantry, and create a level of prosperity for them; Guru Arjan would serve not only as a spiritual mentor but as a sovereign leader (sacchā pādshāh) for his followers in his own right.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji encouraged his Sikhs to do the trade of horses. His Sikhs used to buy the horses from Afgansitan and  sell them in  Punjab. This trade had benefited Sikhs in two ways beside the monetary profit. First is that they became experts in horse riding and secondly  they have learned  talwarbazi .  While coming back  to Punjab looters try to loot their luggage as well as their horses To save that  they used  to fight with them, So it is said that Guru Hargobind Sahib had not faced  much difficulty into preparing  Sikhs as a fighter Nation.


Reasons interpreted by historians differ with each other but one thing was there that Jahangir was not happy and was afraid of the expansion of Sikh Relgion which may become threat to Muslims as per his thought, which he indicated in his memoirs, Tujki Jahangiri ,”There was a Hindu named Arjan in Gobindwal on the banks of the Beas River. Pretending to be a spiritual guide, he had won over as devotees many simple-minded Indians and even some ignorant, stupid Muslims by broadcasting his claims to be a saint. They called him a guru. Many fools from all around had recourse to him and believed in him implicitly. For three or four generations they had been peddling this same stuff. For a long time, I had been thinking that either this false trade should be eliminated or that he should be brought into the embrace of Islam”. ” The execution of Guru Arjan Dev marks a sharp contrast to Jahangir’s intolerant attitude towards other religions such as Hinduism and Christianity.

” ਮਿੱਟੀ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਕਿ ਪੇੜੇ ਪਈ ਕੁਮਿਆਰ ”  These lines according to Muslims were controversial and against their religion. Muslims leaders complaint against these lines to Akbar. When Akbar enquired about it third Guru, Guru Amardas sent Ramdas to  clarify . Akbar red these lines with   many more lines of Granth Sahib as per his  choice and was fully satisfied. After that Akbar came  to meet Guru Amar Das also  and had langar in the Common Kitchen.  Akbar offered some jagirs for Langar,which Guru Sahib politely refused and said that,” this the efforts of Sangat and Sangat is doing that”. Bibi Bhani was standing beside him. Akar said these jagirs I am giving to my daughter Bibi Bhani  which Guru Sahib could not refuse as Akbar very humble.

Jahangir  was a fanatic Badshah and did not like the soft attitude of his  father towards  Sikhs and Hindus, and looking for the opportunity to suppress them. He started the topic again which Akbar has closed it and demanded, Guru Arjan to erase some of the hymns in text of Guru Granth Sahib and to  include some stanzas written by his favorite poets  Piloo and Chhaju in Guru Granth Sahib, which  Guru Sahib refused. as it did not go  and match with the philosphy  Gurbani.

Anyhow he was looking out and waiting for the opportunity, which he got it.  Mughal dynasty dispute between Jahangir and his son Khusrau suspected of rebellion by Jahangir When Khusro revolted against Jahangir and being  unsuccessful ran away towards Afghanistan. But in the way he felt like meeting   Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Guru Arjun Dev Ji as usual gave him Ashirwad which  Jahangir took   as  an  offence therefore he ordered the Guru’s execution.

,In 1606, Emperor Jehangir, summoned the Guru Ji to his court on the charge of blessing a rebellious son of  Emperor. Upon the Guru’s refusal to embrace Islam or Paying 2 lakh fine to escape death, the fifth prophet of the Sikh religion was given  inhumane torture. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was arrested, tortured and made to sit on hot iron plates at Lahore. He was martyred on May 30th, 1606 at Lahore by Emperor Jahangir. Thus, the martyrdom tradition of Sikhism began with the martyrdom of the Guru Ji himself. From this point forward, Sikhism began to form itself into a community of saint-soldiers.

Before coming to meet  Jahangir , Guru Sahib knew  that he wont be able to come back, so he instructed  his son and successor Hargobind Sahib  to take up arms, and resist tyranny. His execution led the Sikh Panth to become armed and pursue resistance to persecution under the Mughal rule  Michael Barnes states that the resolve and death of Guru Arjun strengthened the conviction among Sikhs that, “personal piety must have a core of moral strength. A virtuous soul must be a courageous soul. Willingness to suffer trial for one’s convictions was a religious imperative”.

An alternate version highlights the role of a Hindu Minister of Jahangir named Chandu Shah, whose daughter were to marry  Hargobind Sahib but this relationship was not accepted to Sangat. Guru Arjan Dev could not go against the will of Sangat and broke that relationship  of Hargobind Sahib with Chandu’ daughter. Chandu just to take  revenge paid Rs 200000 lacs , all the money of fine to Jahangir  just to torture Guru Sahib  himself and keep him in his house and given emotional as well as physical torture.The Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore, Pakistan, commemorates the spot where Guru Arjan Dev is traditionally believed to be tortured and  died.

An alternate version highlights the role of a Hindu Minister of Jahangir named Chandu Shah, whose daughter were to marry  Hargobind Sahib but this relationship was not accepted to Sangat. Guru Arjan Dev could not go against the will of Sangat and broke that relationship  of Hargobind Sahib with Chandu’ daughter. Chandu just to take  revenge paid Rs 200000 lacs , all the money of fine to Jahangir  just to torture Guru Sahib  himself and keep him in his house and given emotional as well as physical torture.

This is from records of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, composed after the punishment and execution of Guru Arjun:
These days the accursed infidel of Gobindwal was very fortunately killed. It is a cause of great defeat for the reprobate Hindus. With whatever intention and purpose they are killed – the humiliation of infidels is for Muslims, life itself. The object of levying Jizya (tax on non-Muslims) on them is to humiliate and insult the Kafirs  and Jihad against them and hostility towards them are the necessities of the Mohammedan faith. – Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, Letter to Murtaza Khan, On the execution of Guru Arjan


According to the Sikh tradition, Guru Arjan compiled the Adi Granth by collecting hymns of past Gurus from many places, then rejecting those that he considered as fakes or to be diverging from the teachings of the Gurus. His approved collection included hymns from the first four Gurus of Sikhism, those he composed, as well as 17 Hindu bards and 2 Muslim bards. The compilation was completed on August 30, 1604, according to the Sikh tradition and installed in the Harmandir Sahib temple on September 1, 1604.

As another sign of equality in Sikh philosophy, the Guru Ji added the writings of several Muslim and Hindu saints, whose ideas corresponded to Sikh beliefs. With the passage of time, the Guru attracted a substantial following, therefore the Sikh community undertook a social-political character.

Guru Arjan was a prolific poet who composed 2,218 hymns. More than half of the volume of Guru Granth Sahib and the largest collection of hymns has been composed by Guru Arjan. According to Christopher Shackle and Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair, Guru Arjan’s compositions combined spiritual message in an “encyclopedic linguistic sophistication” with “Braj Bhasha forms and learned Sanskrit vocabulary”.

He wrote a voluminous amount of Sikh scripture including the popular Sukhmani Sahib. Guru Arjan is credited with completing many other infrastructure projects,

Nothing else but Shabad Kirtan is recited in the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji

Guru Arjan Dev Ji was a great thinker, illustrious poet, a practical philosopher and a celebrated saint. He was the first martyr in the Sikh history. He practiced humility and forgiveness. He preached truth, contentment and contemplation. He organised the Sikhs into a community. After the brutal martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, his son Hargobind Sahib Ji was appointed the Sixth Guru of the Sikhs in line.

 Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki

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Nirmal Anand

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